Three Summer Sketches
I. Tree Service
When Melissa and I moved into our home as newlyweds some twenty years ago, the tree outside our bedroom window was no mere sapling, but as the years passed it grew taller and thicker, and eventually its heavy boughs swayed well over the house, almost brushing against the roof, giving squirrels an easy leap onto that steep playground of silvery shingles. On windy nights the rustle and scrape of twigs and foliage rubbed against the edge of my sleep, and during daylight the juicy green leaves of late June and early July sheltered our bedroom window from all but the bravest beams of sunlight. The thick clusters of leaves also covered the upstairs window of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, our neighbors. Actually it was the Jones' little daughter, Megan, who had that room opposite ours. Megan had been four when they moved in, and cute as a button, but that was ten years ago. Make it eleven. She was even cuter now.
I didn't mind the rustling, the dappling, the nearly constant shade, but this spring Melissa had planted bushes, big soft springy bushes, and now she decided that the tree's thick canopy was blocking out too much valuable sunlight. "Those babies need to be thinned," Melissa said. "Call a tree service."
I put it off. But a few weeks later we were out jogging in the neighborhood-actually I jog, Melissa rides her bike-and we passed by a big house getting some extensive landscaping done. "Can you guys prune trees?" Melissa asked the men who were doing the job.
"Sure, lady," said one of the landscapers, a chubby Mexican man with a big belly and a tattered yellow tee shirt. "Pepe, he do good tree work, right Pepe?" His partner, Pepe presumably, who was much smaller and thinner, scratched his head.
"Good. You guys come over. Give us an estimate."
Noon the next day, Carlo Pepe came over in their rust-colored pickup. "These limbs are blocking out all my sun," Melissa explained. She pointed to the offending branches. "See, my bushes don't get enough light. I need them trimmed." She pointed at the bushes.
"Right," Carlo agreed. "We take out the bushes. No problem."
"Not the bushes," Melissa said. "The branches. The bushes stay."
"Right," Carlo agreed. "The bushes."
"No, the trees," Melissa said, gesturing. "That limb and that one. The ones leaning over the house. And those two at the ends. Chop them off. Chop them off and take them away. Can you do it? How much?"
"Do you think they understood?" Melissa asked me later.
"I'm not sure I understood," I confessed. "But in any event two hundred seems like a good price."
"I don't know," Melissa said. "I'm having second thoughts."
"I'm sure it will work out fine," I said.
"Well, it's going to be up to you to oversee it. My tour starts tonight."
At noon the next day Pepe and Carlo pulled up in their old truck. "You have a ladder?" Carlo asked. I helped Pepe lug the 36 foot aluminum ladder from the garage.
"You have a saw?" Carlo said.
"In the garage," I answered.
"Pepe?" I said, looking around.
"Pepsi Cola," he said. "With ice. It's very hot."
By the time I came out with two cans of Coke and a couple of tall glasses filled with ice, Pepe and Carlo had the ladder fully extended and leaning up against the tree. Pepe was climbing. Carlo was holding the ladder. "Thank you," he said when he saw me with the drinks, and he let go of the ladder. Anxiously I looked up. Pepe wasn't on the ladder, he was up in the tree, sawing. "Like monkey, no?" Carlo said. He poured one of the Cokes into one of the glasses. We could hear the sharp crack of ice and then the fizz. "Is good," Carlo said, and he smiled.
"Right," I said. "Let me know if you need anything." I went into the house.
From time to time I could hear Pepe, or what I took to be Pepe, scrabbling about on the roof. He didn't make much more noise than a squirrel. I went up to the bedroom and looked out the window to check the progress. The heavy curtain of leaves which usually blocked my view was no longer there. I could see through the airy space all the way to my neighbor's house, to the second floor window. I could see right through my neighbor's window, right to little Megan's bed. I could see little Megan herself, lying on the bed. Only, as I said, she wasn't so little anymore. She also wasn't wearing any clothes. She was masturbating. She had one hand between her legs and another pinching the nipple of her right breast. Her breasts were not big, but her nipples were clearly erect. A pair of fingers from one of her hands worked syncopated figure-eights across the crux of her sex while her coltish legs wobbled back and forth. With the thumb and forefigner of her other hand, she tweaked and twisted the nipple, then started moving her hand slowly down the flat of her belly and up the gentle swell of her pudgy mons. Her hand rested for a moment upon the curls of wispy pussy fur then drifted lower while at the same time her abdomen lifted up. Slowly her legs spread wide. Several fingers pushed fully inside the nimble hole of her pale pink sex. More fingers busked the clit. Megan's body began to tremble and buck.
Suddenly I got the sense of something swaying, something swooping. A shadow plunged past my window. It was more than a shadow-the crash of glass told me that. I looked down. The butt end of the bough had poked through the Jones' first floor window. The branch looked a little like an upended Christmas tree bejeweled by shards of glass, all twinkling and glinting in fresh sunlight. I looked lower. There, right where Melissa's nice soft bush should have been, was Pepe, limp as a dropped rag doll.
I looked across again. Megan was at her window. She had been looking down, too, but now gaze moved upward, from the thick thrust of my cock straight into my eyes. She smiled shyly and then she tasted her fingers.
Manny and Carla have been married for almost nine months. Manny works at the gear factory during the days and fools around with his horn at nights while Carla does the late shift at the Kit-Kat. Carla usually gets home by three or three-thirty, home being a neat and tidy little third floor apartment above the bakery on 11th Street, and most nights they have little energy left for each other. Most mornings Manny wakes up alone in bed. Carla has spent the night on the couch in the living room so as not to disturb him.
"It's time for us to have a baby," Carla tells Manny one morning before he leaves for work. "Tonight would be a good night for it. My mother says hot weather makes for good babies. Besides, it's time."
"What about money?" Manny asks. "What about the Kit-Kat?"
"I've quit the Kit-Kat. I don't need that stuff. Don't forget your lunch."
Manny's blue work shirt is soaked with sweat before the bus makes five stops. Maybe it is the heat. Or maybe he is nervous about the baby. He shakes his head and sweat flies from his eyebrows. "I'm sorry," he says to the lady in the seat next to him. "It's so hot. I'm a little dizzy." The lady nods. "I'm going to have a baby. I mean we are. I mean me and my wife. Tonight. I mean we're... We're going to..." Manny blushes. The lady smiles.
At work he feels weak. On the morning break he talks to his buddy, Big Carl, who works the early swing and is about to leave.
"What's the matter?" Big Carl says. "Heat got you?"
"I can't concentrate," Manny answers. "Carla thinks it's time for us to have a baby."
"Hey, great man," Big Carl says. He slaps Manny on the back. "How come you don't look excited about it?"
"I am excited. I'm just a little nervous is all."
"Well, here's what you do," Big Carl says. "You put some really hot jazz on the phonograph. Something by Miles or Dizzy. Something really cool and staunch, you know? Then a little dancing. A little hugging. And the next think you know- whammo!"
"Whammo?" Manny says.
"Yeah, whammo." Big Carl slaps Manny on the back again.
As the morning wears on, Manny thinks more and more about having a baby, and the more he thinks about it, the more he likes the idea. Maybe the kid can sleep in a dresser drawer like in the cartoons. Man, it will be good to hold Carla in his arms again. And a baby might make the sex extra special. Not that the sex has been anything less than spectacular... when it happens. But lately, with this working at the Kit-Kat, it hasn't been happening too often. But now that's over. Thank goodness. And a baby! By lunchtime he can't wait. "Not feeling well," he tells the foreman. "I think I'm going to have to go home."
"You do look a little peaked," the foreman says. "Take off."
Manny picks up his lunch box, punches out, and catches the bus.
Yup, he thinks as he rides down the avenue. Jazz would be just the thing. There's that new Dizzy Gillespie that they saw in the window of Dix's the other day. Carla has a thing for Gillespie. A present for her. Sort of a way to kick things off. Man, it would be really good. Really special. Dizzy blowing so hot and cool. The sexy riffs, long and stuttery and then smooth and sleek, and those subtle rhythmic shifts. The bus rolls along. Manny lets his mind drift. His thoughts of Dizzy's jazz mix with memories of the sweet way Carla gave herself up in sex back in the old days before she'd begun at the Kit-Kat-her coos and cries, her supple body bending to his touch, the slight shifts in her rhythms as orgasm approached, and then the amazing clutch of her cunt when she came. Manny closes his eyes and sighs. Yup, jazz is perfect music for fucking, especially hot summertime fucking. He replays the pictures in his mind over and over, each time adding a few details. The evening warm and sultry. The window open, but nary a breeze to catch the lace curtains. The new Gillespie on the old phonograph, silver needle riding the groove, the black LP swinging round and round the platter. He can almost taste Carla's smooth skin. He can almost feel the sweet suction of her slippery kisses. Oh, the heat of her, the little wiggle and lift of her body, the easy way she moves when he's in her-oh, the gleam of her eyes, the sway of her hair, the pull and pulse of her hot slick center. Oh man! Fucking so sweet and hot and slow! Manny's erection presses against his pants. Man oh man oh man. The girl across the aisle has noticed. She is grinning at him. Manny blushes but his hard-on won't subside. The bus rolls on, and the girl's big eyes caress the bulge. Manny sets his lunchbox upon his lap.
She's too young to know what this is all about, Manny says to himself. She's just a kid, probably still in high school. But a glance at the girl's eyes tell Manny that she does know. Maybe she and her boyfriend have an apartment of their own. Maybe they play Gillespie these hot summer nights, doing it to that sleek and slippery jazz, doing it and doing it until the girl's cunt hiccups with the sweet tremors of climax, and the boy's cock coughs up its flood of white hot jizz, and the record, long done, just circles there on the turntable, spinning round and round, making that soft, dark, not quite scratchy wave sound, like a distant seashore, or the beating of lovers' hearts.
"Um, would you like a sandwich?" Manny says. He opens his lunchbox."
"No, thank you," the girl says.
"It's fresh," Manny says. "Salami and cheese. I ain't taken a bite out of it or nuthin."
"No, that's okay," says the girl.
"How about an apple, then? A red one. They're really good. Juicy."
"Okay," the girl says. "An apple would be fine."
"Okay," Manny says. He takes the apple out. The old lunchbox presses against the knob of his erection. "Um," he says. He holds the apple out. "Um, here."
The girl gets up and crosses the aisle. Manny can't help but see the shapely sway of her small breasts beneath her summer blouse as she takes the apple from his hands.
"Thanks," the girl says, and she returns to her seat. She smiles at him and takes a bite. Such a nice smile. Small white teeth. Gleaming eyes. A quick pink tongue. A fine spray of saliva spurts as she eats. And those soft firm apple-sized breasts beneath her blouse, pale pink nipples, probably- soft little buttons to lick and bite, like Carla's, stiffening up into... Manny stops himself.
"Good, isn't it?" Manny says.
The girl nods. Her eyes never leave Manny's as she eats the apple.
No, Manny says to himself. It's Carla he should have in his head. But he can't keep from picturing the girl and boy lying there, content, sticky, hot, flushed-the girl's cunt full of the boy's semen, overflowing with it. Me and Carla, Manny insists, but it's that amorphous boy his mind gives him, and it's the girl across the aisle who's bending over his body, her little breasts swaying, her mouth breathing life into that sluggish cock until it's stiff and silky, thickened with fresh lust, and they're back to fucking again, slow hot summertime fucking, and she's coming, coming so hard she almost can't stand it. Manny's cock throbs. For a moment the world stops.
The bus stops, too, and the girl gets off, tossing the apple core into the gutter. Manny follows her with his eyes as the bus pulls out. She's sweet, that girl, tight little ass, almost boyish, swaying slightly as she steps, but hey, not as sweet as Carla. Carla and me-about to make a baby!
At 11th, more excited than ever, Manny exits the bus, but instead of hurrying up to his apartment, he crosses the street to Dix's Records & Sheet Music. "The new Gillespie," he tells the clerk.
"It's selling well," the fellow says as he gets it down. "Supposed to be really hot. Plenty of swell tunes. But I'm an Armstrong man myself."
"Yeah, well," Manny says, handing over his money. "My wife likes Dizzy. No need for a sack."
Lunchbox in one hand, record jacket in the other, Manny steps onto the sidewalk. Sunbeams glint upward. Manny raises his eyes to the third floor window. Sure enough it's open wide. Inside lace curtains drop through deep shadows, nary a breeze to ruffle them. Manny smiles and crosses the street.
On the opposite side he steps between a two-tone Dodge and Big Carl's sea green Desoto. The white stocking dangling from the Desoto's rearview mirror catches the corner of Manny's eye. The lunchbox quivers against his thigh. His grip tightens on the record jacket. Man oh man, he says to himself as he looks up at the third floor window.
He pricks his ears and cocks his head and breathes deep. "Pretty Baby" is just ending. "Heartbreak Boogie" is about to begin. Inside Carla is moaning. "Don't stop! Don't stop!" she cries. Manny can hear it as if she's right next to him, right underneath him. "Oh, baby, don't stop, don't ever stop. It's so good, so good, so oh oh good." Manny can hear the couch squeak and the skin slap. Then the hard gasp, the muffled grunt, the cave deep silence.